Friday, 18 March 2011

The Lectionary

The original idea was that our new translation of the Missal would be accompanied by a new translation of the Lectionary, too. It was decided some time ago that we would use the NRSV version of the Bible, but that now seems to be no longer quite so certain.

Not surprisingly, Rome has been less than happy with certain aspects of the NRSV, in particular its inclusive language. The publishers of the NRSVare less than happy with what Rome proposes; not just our desired modifications to the text, but even the 'incipits' we use in the Gospel: 'At that time Jesus said to the pharisees';  'When Jesus came to Capernaum he said…'; this, it seems, they consider tinkering with God's Word (which, apparently, their inclusive language isn't). So now we have stalemate.

There is a growing number of people who consider that the 'old' RSV would match better with the new translation of the Missal (especially if its thees and thous were altered).

I hear that the Bishops of England and Wales have now decided that there are to be no further liturgical changes for another six years: that perforce will include the new lectionary. This, I suppose, is to enable people to get some wear out of any personal missal they might buy that has the new version of the Missal but the Jerusalem Bible and Grail Psalms. So publishers can get going, in other words, and not fear being left with a lot of useless stock, or not making sales at all.

This means that we have six years to campaign for a decent version of the Bible for the Lectionary: fortunately it seems that the NRSV probably isn't going to be a runner after all.

And in the meantime, I expect that we will see publishers of temporary books like Magnificat making a killing; Magnificat is a very good thing, though whether many parishioners can be induced to take out a subscription remains to be seen.

15 comments:

Genty said...

Does this mean we will still be getting

"Happy are those" for the Beatitudes

"Clothes whiter than any earthly bleach"

"Jesus burst into tears"

Sob.

Laura said...

Is this a very recent decision Father? We listened to a talk given by Bishop Kieran Conry earlier this week in which he mentioned the fact that the Lectionary would be renewed, but not that it would be another six years. We had the impression it would be sooner.

Pastor in Valle said...

It's recent, yes.

Fr William said...

I'm surprised that the NRSV's publishers should baulk at the incipits. Probably the most widely-used edition of the NRSV lectionary in the CofE employs quite long and detailed incipits - e.g. recently, for a pericope from the middle of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5.21ff): "On the mountain, Jesus gathered his disciples around him and taught them, saying …" (Jesus gathered his disciples? Mt 5.1 simply says "his disciples came to him." Not a problem if it were to occur in a homily, say, but in a reading supposedly straight from Holy Scripture?) Occasionally the incipits can even be a tad controversial, stating the supposed context in a way which implies a particular interpretation. Perhaps the publishers are now working on the principle of "once bitten, twice shy".

Well, it will be no bad thing if the upshot is that the NRSV - with its forcible inclusivisation which so often not only does violence to the text itself but also sabotages the Christological reading of so many OT passages and renders meaningless Our Lord's use of the term "Son of Man" - gets sidelined in favour of, for preference, the RSV. As the most recent (2nd) Catholic edition of the RSV replaces the residual thee-and-thou language, it should be fit for use off the shelf, without further amendment.

Ben said...

The only place in the English-speaking world where anyone seems to have got anywhere with lectionary reform is the Antilles, where they have a Rome-approved lectionary based on RSV2 (a gently modernised RSV). Is this the way forward?
http://www.ignatius.com/Products/RSVLSET-H/rsv-lectionary-2-volume-set.aspx

Jim said...

As a regular lector in my parish, I find my heart sinking at the possibility of such a long delay. The language of the existing lectionary is bland and arguably not faithful to the original texts. All too often it is also very difficult to read aloud because of clumsy phrasing -- not a good feature in something described as a "lectionary"!

Sixupman said...

Can someone please explain the logic of two Lectionaries, other than to isolate the Old Missals and create work for the printing industry?

Fr William R. Young said...

I wonder if their Lordships will get away with a six year moratorium given that Liturgicam authenticam indicated that they had 10 years to address the problem of liturgical mistranslation, and we are now in injury time. Abandoning the Jerusalem Bible's "variations on a well known theme" and turning to the RSV is possible, but the actual books are not well laid out, and the thees and thous are a problem. The Ignatius Press RSV2 lectionary authorised for the Antilles is also not easy to use and has some strange choices, e.g. the Wedding Feast of Cana as an option for years A and B as well as C on the Second Sunday of the Year - a good idea, but is it allowed here? And the RSV2 psalms grate on an ear accustomed to the Grail. So, back to missalettes then! ?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I was under the impression that the RSV lectionary had never had the permission for its use withdrawn. S Thomas's had two in use, one of which is the private property of a brother priest.

Pastor in Valle said...

Fr Hunwicke; indeed you're right. But the RSV lectionary hasn't been republished, and its format is not as straightforward as the current edition of the JB Lectionary. In addition, the thees and thous don't sit comfortably these days, alas.

Little Black Sambo said...

St Matthew 3.15
Jesus said . . . Suffer it to be so now . . .
But in the Jerusalem version he says,
Leave it like this for the time being.

Little Black Sambo said...

"... the thees and thous are a problem."
Why? We haven't changed the Lord's Prayer.

Little Black Sambo said...

If the thees and thous don't sit comfortably, so much the worse for the furniture.

David Lindsay said...

The RSV Edition of the Missal must be reissued as a matter of the utmost urgency. Alternatively, why not just stand and read out the appointed passage, but from the RSV Catholic Edition (also known as the Ignatius Bible), mercifully still readily available?

If the Ordinariate were what it is being cracked up to be in certain circles, then that edition of the Missal would never have gone out of print, since those now availing themselves of that provision, Modern Roman Riters for as long as there have been Modern Roman Riters, would still have been insisting on it. But it did go out of print. Think on.

Charles G said...

Interestingly enough, according to the website below, it would appear that some African bishops' conferences are going the Antilles route and are using RSV-2CE for the lectionary:

http://www.paulinesafrica.org/news.html

Lucky Africans! Alas, the American bishops seem wedded to the New American Bible for the foreseeable future.